As the story goes, about halfway up the “little mountain” of Montceau, in the heart of the premier cru vineyards of Saint-Aubin—and just beside Didier Larue’s vines—grows a solitary cherry tree. It catches the first and last rays of each spring day’s sunshine, producing the earliest ripening cherries in the area. Didier fills his pockets and imagines this bounty as an incarnation of the vineyard’s lush soil and its excellent exposition: always a good harbinger of what’s to come from his vines. No cherries to speak of, but you’ll find hints of other orchard fruit, like citrus and peach.
The Larue holdings are spread between the two villages of Saint-Aubin and Puligny-Montrachet. These holdings include seven premier crus, on south, southeast, and southwestern facing slopes, grown on variations of clay soils with a high concentration of limestone. The domaine's premier crus vineyard in Puligny-Montrachet, La Garenne, sits at a high altitude in the Hameau de Blagny, bordering Meursault. Their most prized vineyard, Saint-Aubin premier cru “Murgers des Dents de Chien,” shares its name with the Dents de Chien lieu-dit of Le Montrachet that is right around the corner and is capable of producing wine that can age and improve in the bottle for decades.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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